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NZ funds to UN Convention on toxic pollutants

5 July 2001 Media Statement

NZ gifts funds to UN Convention on toxic pollutants

Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs, today presented the visiting Head of the United Nations Environment Programme, Dr Klaus Töpfer, with $US30,000 to support work to reduce toxic pollutants worldwide.

New Zealand recently signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants which aims to protect human health and the environment from some of the world's most dangerous pollutants.

The cheque will go to the interim secretariat, established to hasten the adoption of the Convention by countries around the world.

"Our gift is a symbol of the New Zealand government’s commitment to the UNEP and the valuable work it is doing, amongst other things, to reduce toxic pollutants worldwide," Marian Hobbs said.

"It is critical that New Zealand support this important work. Environmental problems don't recognise national borders and UNEP is working for a healthy planet. The money we are contributing today is a significant commitment for New Zealand to the overall programme."

The presentation was made at a luncheon at which Dr Töpfer appointed yachtsman/adventurer Sir Peter Blake a special envoy to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Marian Hobbs congratulated Sir Peter on his appointment.

"It is significant that the UNEP, a leader in international environmental endeavours, has recognised one of New Zealand’s icons of leadership," she added. "Sir Peter’s appointment reflects well on his achievements and the contribution both he and his new venture, 'Blakexpeditions', are making to our awareness of the world around us."

Dr Töpfer will visit Wellington tomorrow (Friday) where he will meet senior government officials, give an address on global environmental issues and visit the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, the Otari Reserve,and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

ENDS

POPs Convention background follows…..

Background

The POPs Convention covers 12 pollutants, known as ‘the dirty dozen’, because they are highly toxic, degrade very slowly, accumulate in the food chain, and travel long distances. The persistent organic pollutants (or POPs) include DDT, dieldren, PCBs and dioxins. New Zealand has already de-registered or made illegal the production or use of such POPs.

The Convention bans production and use of 10 POP chemicals and commits countries to minimise releases of a further two unintentional by-product pollutants. It also establishes a mechanism for adding new POPs to the list in the future, subject to scientific criteria.

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